Day 45 of our Lenten Journey beyond “Beyond Vietnam.” A Good Friday meditation from theologian Kelly Brown-Douglas, excerpted from a post on the Feminism and Religion blog.
In Jesus’ first century Roman world crucifixion was reserved for slaves, enemy soldiers and those held in the highest contempt and with lowest regard in society. To be crucified was, for the most part, an indication of how worthless and devalued by established power an individual was. It also indicated how much of a threat that person was believed to be to the order of things. There was a decided crucified class of people. These were essentially the castigated and demonized as well as the ones who defied the status quo of power. It is in this respect that I believe Jesus’ crucifixion affirms his identification with the marginalized and outcasts. Indeed, on the cross Jesus fully divests himself of all pretensions to power and anything that would compromise his bond with those most othered in the world. The reality of the cross further affirms the profundity of god’s bond with put-upon bodies.. Continue reading
From Kelly Brown Douglas in Stand Your Ground: Black Bodies and the Justice of God (2015):
To connect our black daughters and sons to the faith of their enslaved forebears is, therefore, to provide them with a faith that fosters self-definition and self-determination. It is to let them know they are created in the image of a God that is free from anything human beings can conceive or construct; thus, they too are meant to be free. Put simply, to connect our children to the black faith tradition is to give them the tools to know that “what white people say about [them]…what they do and cause [them] to endure, does not testify to [their] inferiority but to [white people’s] inhumanity and fear” (James Baldwin). To connect our children to black faith, therefore, is to provide them with a firm foundation on which to stand in the midst of the absurdities of black life without being overcome by them.
During one of her many speeches in her fight for black freedom, nineteenth-century black female activist Maria Stewart said this to her black audience, “Many think, because your skins are tinged with a sable hue, that you are an inferior race of beings; but God does not consider you as such. He hath formed and fashioned you in his own glorious image, and hath bestowed upon you reason and strong powers of intellect.” Maria Stewart clearly understood that if oppressed people are going to withstand the assaults against their lives and well-being then they must be equipped with the knowledge of their sacred humanity. This is why poet and essayist Audre Lorde says, “The true focus of revolutionary change is never merely the oppressive situations we week to escape, but that piece of the oppressor which is implanted deep within each of us.”